FREDERICKSBURG, Va. -- Mary Washington was once again chosen as the preseason favorite in the 2019 CAC Women's Tennis Preseason Coaches' Poll. The Eagles, who carry a 15-year CAC Championship streak into this spring, received all seven eligible first-place votes and 49 points to land atop the poll.
Christopher Newport, which finished in second place for the fourth year in a row last season, earned one first-place vote and 43 points to take second place in the rankings. Salisbury was selected third with 37 points, followed by York (28 points) and Southern Virginia (25 points) as the projected fourth and fifth teams, respectively.
St. Mary's (20 points), Penn State Harrisburg (12 points), and Frostburg State (10 points) rounded out the eight CAC teams in the coaches' poll.
Most CAC teams have now opened up their spring campaigns in the next couple weeks, with CAC play set to begin in late March. The CAC Tournament will begin Saturday, April 27, with the championship match slated for Friday, May 4.
2019 CAC Women's Tennis Preseason Poll
Points (First-Place Votes)
|1.||Mary Washington||49 (7)|
|2.||Christopher Newport||43 (1)|
|7.||Penn State Harrisburg||12|
Below is a brief preview of each team entering the 2019 campaign:
1) After serving as an assistant coach since 2005, Art Canizares enters his first season as the head coach of MARY WASHINGTON. The Eagles captured their 15th straight CAC Championship last season. UMW returns Rachel Summers, Danielle Mirabella, and Rachel Cooper who were All-CAC performers a season ago. The Eagles will look for others to step up after losing five seniors to graduation.
Number of returning starters: 3
Returning All-CAC performers:
SINGLES (Rachel Summers, 2nd Pos., 1st Team All-CAC 2017 and 2018) (Danielle Mirabella, 5th Pos., 2nd Team All-CAC in 2017 and 2018) (Rachel Cooper, 6th Pos., CAC Rookie of the Year in 2018, 2nd Team All-CAC in 2018)
DOUBLES (Rachel Summers, 2nd Pos., 1st Team All-CAC 2017 and 2018) (Danielle Mirabella, 3rd Pos., 2nd Team All-CAC in 2017 and 2018)
Returning All-Region performers:
ALL-STATE (Rachel Summers, 1st Team in Singles and Doubles in 2018, 2nd Team for Singles and Doubles in 2017) (Danielle Mirabella, 2nd Team in Singles in 2018) (Rachel Cooper, 2nd Team in Singles in 2018)
Rachel Summers, ITA All-American in 2018
2) Featuring the highest preseason national ranking in program history, CHRISTOPHER NEWPORT women's tennis is ranked in the top-25 of the Oracle/ITA Division III women's tennis poll. Led by junior Johanna Ranta-aho, who is ranked in the top-20 nationally in singles play, the Captains finished last season ranked No. 24 after a 13-6 season. Ranta-aho was named the CAC Player of the Year and finished her second year with an 18-5 overall record while qualifying for the NCAA Singles National Championships. Joining Ranta-aho is an exciting group of newcomers including junior transfer Olivia Reed and rookie Amanda Yermal.
3) SALISBURY enters the 2019 season with four returning starters from a team that went 15-7 – the most wins for the program in five years. Sophomore Sydney Soto posted a team-high-tying 13 singles victories last season and was named the CAC Rookie of the Year, while junior Annika Kezman played all but two of the team's No. 1 singles matches, earning first-team All-CAC honors.
Returning starters: 4
Returning All-CAC selections: 2
Sydney Soto (Rookie of the Year)
Annika Kezman (1st team singles, 1st team doubles)
4) The York College tennis team had a strong fall campaign as they went 5-1. The Spartans are led by senior Rachel Wagner as she went 5-0 at number one singles for the fall. Wagner is 33-13 for her career as she takes over the number one singles position from graduate Katie Wagner who concluded her career as York's all-time wins leader with 41 singles victories. Gina Liguori went 4-0 at second singles this fall while Chloe Doyle also had a strong fall campaign with a record of 4-1. Maisie Supp is another strong player for the Green and White as she owns a career mark of 20-13 in two years for the Spartans.
5) The SOUTHERN VIRGINIA Knights enter the 2018-19 season after their second appearance in the CAC history. Last season, Southern Virginia strung together their second best season with a 14-7 record. The Knights return their entire squad with the additional of several strong additions to help boost the Knights in CAC competition.
6) The ST. MARY'S Women's Tennis team is coming off an (8-7, 2-5 CAC) year and are looking to build off that. Claire Bodine and Alden Grosh are the two lone returners from last year's squad and will look to help newcomers Jackie Agyemang, Baudratte Djiogo, Marianne Hershey and Sophie Nuwar. St. Mary's will open their spring season on Feb. 24 as they travel to Ashland, Virginia to take on the Yellow Jackets of Randolph Macon College.
7) PENN STATE HARRISBURG'S women's tennis team picked up a pair of victories in the fall, defeating Albright and defending MAC Commonwealth champion Lebanon Valley. The Lions have been led by junior and top singles player Sydney Nye, as well as senior Maria Torre and freshman newcomer Claire Hackenberg in solo action. With soccer season now complete, the Blue & White will also be bolstered by the return of junior Sheila Ansary this spring. The Lions return 5 of 6 players from 2017-18.
8) First year head coach Jeff Splinter takes over the FROSTBURG tennis programs after serving as an assistant coach for the last two years and he has plenty of talent to lean on. The Bobcats boast the return of senior Jenna Lipinski, along with juniors Elizabeth Mott, Allison Paul, Kate Paylor and Sammi Turner who have all been with the program for several years. Frostburg enters the spring at 3-1 overall, while Paul was a perfect 3-0 in the fall in singles action.